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Palestine, Egypt (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Hamas Shows Its Strength in West Bank

Thursday's rally for Hamas in the West Bank city of Nablus

See also Saudi Arabia Analysis: Explaining the "Days of Rage" in the Kingdom
Syria Live Coverage: Protests, Bombs, and A Victory That "Cannot Be Ruled Out"
Thursday's Egypt (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Stumbling Towards a Referendum

1937 GMT: Egypt. Clashes after Friday prayers at the Qaed Ibrahim mosque in Alexandria, where prominent preacher Ahmed El-Mahalawy urged worshipers to vote "Yes" in the referendum on the draft Constitution:

1535 GMT: Bahrain On January 11, 23-year old Yousef Mowali, who suffers from schizophrenia, left his home for a walk. Two days later, his body was discovered floating in the sea by police. The cause of death was ruled as drowning, however, at the time, his family reported seeing torture marks on his body. In May, Al-Jazeera English revealed that a Turkish forensics expert had secretly entered Bahrain and performed a covert autopsy. She concluded that Yousef had been tortured. In an interview for Hurriyet Daily News, Dr. Şebnem Korur Fincancı speaks of the experience:

The lawyers in the IRCT [International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims] sent an email to our group and asked for a forensic expert who could take the risk to go to Bahrain and examine the body of a torture victim. I was the most suitable among all of us because I did not need a visa to go inside Bahrain and did not look European at all, so I would not attract any attention.

I bought the surgical equipment in Bahrain, and we also found the necessary chemical solutions to put tissue samples in. I wore a long dress and hijab in order to look like a relative of the family who was visiting to express condolences. There were several police outside the place of the funeral but they were not suspicious of me because they were probably expecting a man and a European

I took tissue samples from the body of the victim at the place of the funeral. The most important thing was the chest bone because the police insisted that he drowned. I took the chest bone and put it in the chemical solution I had brought with me. The most difficult part was making the stitches on my own because I did not have the proper equipment for it. I asked for a quilting needle, and they found it. I finished the work and left the house. However, I heard that police raided the [place] after I left.

We have proved that the scars on the hands and feet were the scars of electrical torture. The victim was most likely unconscious when he was thrown into the sea and this is why he drowned. We sent the report to the IRCT.

1529 GMT: Egypt. As hundreds of supporters and opponents of the Government rallied in Cairo today, Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed El-Beltagy accused the US, Israel, and Gulf States of trying to ruin Egypt's democratic process.

El-Beltagy, who is also Secretary-General of the group’s Freedom and Justice Party, said those who say the final draft of the Constitution was rushed are “liars" and assured, “The people are the best judges. A revolt against the legitimate authorities will produce thousands of martyrs.”

1527 GMT: Bahrain. Leading human rights defender Zainab AlKhawaja was sentenced to a month in prison on Monday for illegally entering the space that used to contain Pearl Roundabout. She had been arrested the previous day from Salminaya hospital after trying to visit a teenager who was shot in the face by security forces last week. Zainab's mother Khadija Almousawi reports on a call she just had from Zainab. Jude is Zainab's three-year old daughter:

1520 GMT: Israel. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has announced that he will resign, a day after the Attorney General's decide to indict him on charges of fraud and breach of trust.

Lieberman said he made the decision following deliberations with his lawyers, despite the fact that he was told he was not obligated to resign from his position as foreign minister. He suggested that he will try to secure a plea bargain before the upcoming elections in January.

Senior officials in the Likud Beiteinu coalition stressed that Lieberman will still run in the elections for the 19th Knesset as the #2 candidate on the slate.

"Even though I know I did not commit any crime... I decided to resign from my post as Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister and remove my immunity," Lieberman announced. "Following 16 years of investigations against me, I will now be able to end this matter quickly and without delays, and finally clear my name."

1515 GMT: Bahrain Pictures from todays large march, calling for democracy and organised by opposition political societies, including AlWefaq. The march, which passed without police attack, was the first authorised march in some weeks, after a ban on protests was lifted this week. New regulations on controlling demonstrations have, however, been introduced.

One observer noted:

The Bahrain Justice and Development Movement has been liveblogging the protest march here.

0927 GMT: Israel and Palestine. Two cameramen working for Reuters have been assaulted by Israeli soldiers in the Palestinian West Bank city of Hebron.

Yousri Al Jamal and Ma'amoun Wazwaz were driving to a checkpoint on Wednesday where a Palestinian teenager had just been killed by an Israeli border guard when they were stopped, struck by the soldiers’ rifle butts, forced to strip to their underwear and had tear gas thrown towards them.

The soldiers’ actions have been condemned by Reuters, whilst the Israeli military has been “ordered to open an investigation".

0910 GMT: Palestine. One of the reported advances in the cease-fire of last month's eight-day Gaza War was Israel's extension of the permitted zone for Gaza fisherman from three miles off the coast to six miles.

CNN reports, however, that the measure has made little difference for the fishermen:

0720 GMT: Palestine. On Thursday, thousands of Palestinians rallied in Nablus in the West Bank to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Hamas and its "victory" over Israel in last month's Gaza War.

In a possible sign of a move for "reconcilation", the West Bank's ruling Palestinian Authority allowed the gathering for the first time since 2007. In that year, tensions between Hamas and the Fatah Party, the key faction in the Authority, broke out into open conflict in Gaza, with Hamas winning and claiming the leadership it still holds.

"Our message is that Hamas is here, on the ground and in the heart of our people," Hamas MP Hosni al-Burini said.

Amin Maqbul, the secretary-general of Fatah's Revolutionary Council, told the rally, "Hamas has given thousands of martyrs, prisoners and wounded for Palestine."

Maqbul continued with the promise of talks between Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas and his Hamas counterpart, "There will soon be a meeting in Cairo between Abu Mazen [Abbas] and Khaled Meshaal to complete the reconciliation and this will be a historic day."

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